Not just black and white: pigment pattern development and evolution in vertebrates

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2009 Feb;20(1):72-81. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2008.11.012. Epub 2008 Nov 27.


Animals display diverse colors and patterns that vary within and between species. Similar phenotypes appear in both closely related and widely divergent taxa. Pigment patterns thus provide an opportunity to explore how development is altered to produce differences in form and whether similar phenotypes share a common genetic basis. Understanding the development and evolution of pigment patterns requires knowledge of the cellular interactions and signaling pathways that produce those patterns. These complex traits provide unparalleled opportunities for integrating studies from ecology and behavior to molecular biology and biophysics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Color
  • Humans
  • Life Cycle Stages
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Pigmentation / physiology*
  • Vertebrates / physiology*